West Virginia Construction Trades Bookkeeper Sentenced for Embezzlement

Nobody is too old to go to prison if the offense is serious enough. Joan Matthews has learned that lesson the hard way. On Wednesday, October 17, Matthews, former bookkeeper for the Charleston Building and Construction Trades Council (CBCTC), was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia to a year and a day in prison for embezzling $183,667.11 in funds from the Charleston-based, AFL-CIO-affiliated council. She also was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $141,325.78. Matthews had pleaded guilty this June after being indicted in January. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

According to prosecutors, Matthews, now 70, a resident of South Charleston, W.Va., began stealing labor council funds sometime in 2010 and would continue to do so until September 2014, when certain fellow office employees alerted the Department of Labor to the fact of missing funds. She would process and cash unauthorized union checks and then use the money to pay personal credit card bills and rack up new charges on labor council credit cards. “When you are 70 years old, a sentence of a year and a day is a lifetime,” said U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart. “Matthews used her position as a bookkeeper for the CBCTC to steal money over several years. She earned her sentence.”